The speaker has faced cross-party criticism for his management of a ceasefire voteUK Parliament / Flickr

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, told the Cambridge Union that his actions during a recent vote on a Gaza ceasefire were a “mistake”.

Speaking yesterday evening (23/02) for the first time in public since the incident in Parliament on Wednesday (21/02), Hoyle acknowledged that the proceedings were “a shambles […] it wasn’t good”.

During a debate on an SNP motion to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, Hoyle broke parliamentary convention by permitting a vote on Labour’s amendment to the motion. The move helped prevent a party rebellion by allowing Labour MPs to call for a ceasefire without supporting the SNP’s motion.

Conservative and SNP MPs walked out of the chamber in protest at the Speaker’s actions, meaning that the Labour motion passed without a formal vote.

The events in Parliament resulted in 70 MPs signing a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.

Sir Hoyle opened the event in the Union by thanking the audience “for the warm welcome,” adding: “These days I’m not getting much of that”.

Sir Hoyle compared the criticism he’s faced to that confronted by previous speakers during medieval times, noting how “one was murdered by an opposing political faction, and one was beheaded by a mob while seeking to escape disguised as a monk”.

When asked whether the events of the past 72 hours had changed the way he viewed Westminster, Hoyle stated that his career in politics had always been “a tough game”.

He insisted that his decision on the vote was guided by his concern for the safety of MPs “who’d been threatened, who had been bullied, [whose] families had been targeted, because of that debate [over the ceasefire]”.

Sir Hoyle’s actions on Wednesday were met with several allegations that he had prioritised the interests of the Labour Party owing to pressure from party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn labelled events a “farce” and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated that Hoyle’s conduct was “concerning”.

The speaker defended his choices in the Union chamber, asserting that it “was my decision” and that “I wasn’t blackmailed, I wasn’t bribed, and I wasn’t told”.

However, he accepted that his actions on Wednesday had proven problematic, telling the Union that “with hindsight, would I have done something different? Yes”.


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Hoyle also lightly mocked media coverage of the event and the claims that Starmer had pressured him.

“Well you’ve got to sell newspapers!” he joked, prompting laughter from the chamber.

When challenged again by an audience member about his meeting with Starmer, Hoyle insisted that he had already decided on his actions before meeting with the Labour leader, saying that he “didn’t know what Starmer was going to say” prior to their discussion.

He added that at the time he believed holding the vote was “the right thing to do” but didn’t “expect [MPs] not to vote, and that was the mistake”.